Re-posted for Filing
Monday, July 30, 2012
Unlocking the secrets of plant genetics could lead to breakthroughs in cancer research and food security
Increasingly, scientists are uncovering surprising biological connections between humans and other forms of life. Now a Tel Aviv University researcher has revealed that plant and human biology is much closer than has ever been understood — and the study of these similarities could uncover the biological basis of diseases like cancer as well as other “animal” behaviors.
In his new book What a Plant Knows (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) and his articles in Scientific American, Prof. Daniel Chamovitz, Director of TAU’s Manna Center for Plant Biosciences, says that the discovery of similarities between plants and humans is making an impact in the scientific community. Like humans, Prof. Chamovitz says, plants also have “senses” such as sight, smell, touch, and taste.
Ultimately, he adds, if we share so much of our genetic makeup with plants, we have to reconsider what characterizes us as human.
These findings could prompt scientists to rethink what they know about biology, says Prof. Chamovitz, pointing out that plants serve as an excellent model for experiments on a cellular level. This research is also crucial to food security, he adds, noting that knowledge about plant genetics and how plants sense and respond to their environment is central to ensuring a sufficient food supply for the growing population — one of the main goals of the Manna Center.